Part 2: What is Loyalty?
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 24 April 2004
Click here for Part 1
I know a lady who believes in baptism by sprinkling. That was the way she was baptised as a baby, it was the way she baptised her children, and no doubt it was the way her parents, and others of her forefathers, were baptised too. She is also a committed Christian, loves Christ, and has a good heart. Her two daughters, however, broke with the tradition of the established national Church and were baptised by immersion because this was the mode in which all believers were baptised in the New Testament. They have showed their mother the biblical truth about this ordinance, both the way it was practiced by the apostles and its symbolic meaning. Why does a Bible-believing Christian so stubbornly reject the truth, then? The answer may surprise you.
As it turns out, when this Christian lady was born, her mother nearly died. Fearful that she would not see her newborn child baptised into the faith, the little baby was hurriedly taken to the State Church and 'baptised' by sprinkling. When she grew up and learned what had happened, it naturally made a deep impression on her. For her, baptism by this mode was intimately tied to a life-and-death struggle for survival, and the fact that her mother survived the birth was connected to this baptismal experience. In spite of the fact that this mode of baptism teaches lies about redemption - denying the free agency of adult baptism, and denying that repentance must be so total and complete that self must literally be buried in a watery grave to be renewed in Christ - this woman felt a loyalty to this false mode because of her mother. Her mother's dying wish that she should be raised in the Christian faith became confused with the demands of the Creator that we enter into the Kingdom of Heaven in the proper way. Instead of retaining in her heart those good and noble feelings for her mother and her desire that she be raised a Christian but at the same submitting herself to the higher love of obedience to Yahweh when she discovered the truth, she made a choice to place her love for her mother higher than a love for the truth. In short, she loved her mother more than God.
Whether we care to accept it or not, every human being was born with an intense capacity for loyalty to something. We are all loyal to something or to someone. This is the subject of my sermon this morning, and it is a theme very dear to my heart because not only have I personally been deceived by wrong modes of loyalty but I hazzard to guess that so has nearly every human being that has ever lived on this planet. This sermon is also in response to a vision I had on 25 February and a commission from Yahweh to speak to you about it.
What is loyalty? To be loyal means to show allegiance. Loyalty can be to one's country, to one's government, to one's religious tradition, to parents, to a lover, to a best friend, and - yes - even to an oppressor. As a deliverance minister I was initially shocked when I discovered in Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) how victims felt intense loyalty to their controlling demons and to Satan even though they had been horribly abused by them. Something within them overrode common sense and persuaded them to be loyal to something totally irrational and self-destructive. Are we surprised? I don't think we should be. It really depends how we have been brought up and what we have chosen to give our loyalty to. And you would be surprised what people are loyal to.
Have you ever experienced divided loyalties? Have you ever experienced having your heart torn in two directions? A child witnessing two parents quarelling is torn as to to which to be loyal to. He wants to be loyal to both because that was how Yahweh made him - to love and honour his parents. We are born with an intense spiritual need to be loyal. Loyalty brings us stability, purpose, hope and love. It is through loyalty that we are enabled to give the best of ourselves.
You have all heard me tell you of the loyalty of the British people to their country during the first years when she stood all alone before the Nazi oppressor. Everybody knew, with almost no exception, that they had to unite. Even the internationally-minded and anti-nationalist communists joined hands with people of all political persuasions to fight a common enemy. There was no doubt in the minds of the British people that this was the right thing to do. They submerged political and class differences for the sake of one thing: surviving together. And even though the old divisions resurfaced as soon as the war was won, something unique had been created as a result of that experience. I was born in the aftermath of that time, nine years after the Second World War ended. That sense of identity, comradeship, and solidarity as one people affected me as I grew up even though those values were very soon to be rapidly eroded away. Today the dark powers that be are trying to forge a new European identity within us, an unnatural one, one that was not made in a life-threatening situation like war. And as a result, loyalty is motivated not so much by a love of the European people (who are as diverse as salt and sugar) but a love for what actually forged the European Union together in the first place: unrestricted trade, or in other words, money. And though part of the original impetus was to prevent European nations ever waging war against each other again, that generation has all but gone. A new identity and a new loyalty is being formed which is not so much idealistic as spurred on by a love of power and money.
Loyalty. We all want to be loyal. And we all want to be loyal to something or someone who will enable us to be joyful human beings. When a child is betrayed by its parents, the most terrible destruction takes place within the soul. When a husband or wife is betrayed by his or her spouse, a terrible destruction takes place within the soul. Betrayal creates divided loyalties. Betrayal tears at the very fabric of our being. And we have a tendency to remain loyal to a person or an ideal in spite of the internal contradictions and tensions that loyalty creates, because we are all desperate to cling on to what is good. We want to believe. We need to believe. We have to believe. But when that belief is shattered, the soul is thrown into confusion and often does not know whence to turn.
I remember vividly a quarrel my parents had when I was a young teenager. They were each looking to me for suppport of their position. However, what they did not realise at the time, and perhaps never realised, that the issue they were quarreling over - which to this day I cannot remember - was not what was important to me. What was important to me was the sense of hopelessness I felt. Hopeless because I wanted in my heart to be loyal to both of them because I loved them both, and I was being asked to shut down my loyalty for one for the sake of loyalty to other. And when I was asked my opinion I just froze inside. I probably said something like "I don't know", I don't remember now, but I do remember walking away not wanting to be in such a vulnerable position as having to choose. Because for me to choose was to be disloyal to one of them and that, to me, was unthinkable. I wanted to be loyal to both. I simply could not cope with the pressure of having to choose. And it is for this reason that children should not be involved in domestic disputes between parents. I fervently believe that. And yet as parents we all do that to our children! We look to them for allies. And it's wrong because it puts young minds and hearts into bondage.
I am accutely aware that this has happened with my eldest children, and it happened when my first wife and I divorced. I shall never forget the sobs of my eldest son when he learned, at a tender young age, that he was not returning to his mother. It tore my soul to shreds hearing him cry. And no matter how wrong I believe his mother to have been - and still believe - I have always taught both of them to be loyal to her as their mother by continuing to love her. When my second wife fled the nest it caused even more heart-break and divided loyalties, the effects of which have been only too plain to see. It is for this reason principally, though there are others, that I have come to hate divorce with a passion. It is so destructive on young minds and hearts.
How, then, are we to resolve conflicts in loyalty given that we were created to be loyal? The answer is simple: we are at all times, no matter the cost, to be loyal to the truth. But I have to warn you: when you are loyal to the truth, that in itself breaks hearts, though you might wonder why on earth that should be so. Loyalty to the truth breaks hearts only when those hearts are loyal to lies. And yet it isn't that simple - it never is. When we are loyal to lies, it is often because those lies are subtly interwoven with truths. We are drawn to the truths and feel, at times, bound to compromise with those lies for the sake of those truths. And this, brethren and sisters, is usually the greatest dilemma any of us will face in life. It is these entanglements that rend our hearts. We feel loyalty to an employer who has been kind to us but whom we know is being dishonest. Do we expose his criminal activities? One part of us knows we must, but the other part persuades us to be loyal to him because of the kindness he has shown us. Do you understand what I am saying? Have you experienced such dilemmas? I am absolutely sure you have. You may have an abusive husband who at the beginning of his marriage was kind and loving to his wife. The wife knows she needs to get away from the destructive environment, for her sake and for her children's sake, but part of her keeps her loyal to him because of the good memories of their earlier relationship. She remains true to the original love they shared even though that love has, to all intents and purposes, gone forever and may never return.
I am not here to give you textbook answers to such dilemmas and conflicts in loyalty. They are often very complex. They certainly force us to ask ourselves deep and penetrating questions. It is in such circumstances that we discover what we are really made of. The choices can be agonising. Indeed, we may postpone them as long as possible for this very reason, and it can be during these times of divided loyalty that we can stand to lose the most. I know I have. I know that I have found myself between the horns of a dilemma more than once. I love the truth with all my heart but if I am honest with myself I have sometimes compromised in order to maintain, as I suppose, a kind of peace (it's a terrible deception when we do that) and also out of a sense of loyalty.
Imagine yourself half English and half German. You have a German father and an English mother. World War One breaks out. Whose side should you be on? I read the story of one such family. The mother remained with her German husband out of loyalty to him, deciding she had a greater loyalty to her marriage partner than to her country. It is not for me to judge whether she was right or wrong, but her two sons faced a far worse dilemma. In fact, one joined the British armed forces and the other the German armed forces and may even have fought each other. They both loved each other but felt different national allegiances. Such can be the dilemma of loyalties. What would you have done? But much more importantly, why would you have done it? Moral choices can be very, very difficult. Should the brothers have fought, or should they have fled to a neutral country for the duration of the war? Should they have requested to fight on different fronts?
You young people are going to find yourself facing such dilemmas, and have probably been forced to face some already, and no doubt before your time. The choices you will face will be painful but they will determine what spiritual substance you are made of. I know some of you here are already facing them. I know some of you are in dilemmas even now, some which may cause you to turn against your parents, and some to turn and support them. What, then, will be the deciding criteria? On what will your loyalty be based?
To my own children, as a parent, I am in no doubt as to what I shall say to them: they must have a higher loyalty to the truth than to their father. I have taught them what Yahweh has commanded me to teach them, to honour their father and mother, but they must decide in their own minds and hearts just what that honouring consists of. Do we honour our parents in untruth? That we can by no means do, for we are commanded to honour them in Yahweh and not in our own thoughts and emotions, no matter what good they may have done to us. I expect my children's loyalty to me to be based not on how much money I have or havne't given to them, not on how much love I have or haven't shown them, but on the basis of love in truth. Only the truth sets you free. Only the truth will give you a clean conscience. For to have a clear conscience and to be free of divided loyalty, your first and most absolute loyalty must uncompromisingly be to Yahweh your Father in Heaven and to His Torah no matter what your feelings towards your parents may be.
The lady who refuses to accept baptism by immersion is more loyal to the love of her mother's memory than she is to the truth. What she doesn't realise, perhaps, is that her change of allegiance from a false mode of baptism to a true one will by no means defile the memory of her mother or the love her mother had for her. Why should it? All she has to realise is that the method of baptism and the Christian concern her mother had for her are not in the slightest bit related. I too was baptised by sprinkling in an apostate Church but the fact that I was subsequently baptised in the proper way, by full immersion, in no way detracts from the love I feel my mother had for me in baptising me in the wrong way. I accept the love offering of her heart and her desire to bring me up the way she felt was right. I accept that unconditionally. The fact that I subsequently chose to be loyal to Torah by being baptised in the right way does not diminish my appreciation for what she did and why she did it based on the understanding she had then. I do not resent what happened to me because I know her heart was right. All that has happened is that I have subsequently demonstrated my loyalty to the truth and to my Heavenly Father, who has my primary loyalty in everything, by being baptised in the right way as an adult, of my own free choice, and in accordance with Scripture.
I do not want any of my children to feel themselves bound by my mistakes. What I do hope, however, is that they will know that all I did was with the best of intentions and out of a heart-felt love. They have all been raised in a Christian home and it is my prayer that I have taught them right. But they need to understand that they must find out the truth for themselves. I do not expect them to slavishly obey me but to obey their Heavenly Father. And to do that they must accept responsibility for their own lives. I will not resent them searching for themselves. I will consider it my parental duty to continue advising them and pointing them in what I believe the right direction but I will by no means ever expect them to have a higher loyalty to me and what I say than to Yahweh. It is to Him they must give account when they have left home and married, not me.
Many years ago I made the decision to be loyal to the truth no matter what the cost. And it has cost a lot - a lot of pain, a lot of ended relationships. For many people, maintaining relationships with people - with parents, friends, children - is more important to them than loyalty to Yahweh and His Torah. It is a human thing to do even if in the long run it leads to more evil than good. Worse, it can cost you your salvation. People cannot save you. It may be human to err but it is also human to be loyal. Your choice, brethren and sisters, is to decide what you are going to be loyal to. Will it be to your own lusts? Your own ambitions? Will it be to a political ideal, or a country? Will it be to a husband or a wife, or a best friend? You have to choose. But be warned. Make sure you do not do anything rashly. Be careful of the vows you take. Have you ever, for instance, said to someone, "I will be your friend, no matter what?" Would you be surprised if I told you that such a promise is highly dangerous? What if your friend becomes an enemy of God? Will you be true to that friendship still? About the only unconditional promise we can make to each other is that we will always love one another, provided it is always understood that we will love Yahweh first of all. Like it or not, the Bible nowhere gives us the right to make an unconditional allegiance to any human being, system of thought, or country. Human beings change. Human systems of thought are always found to be defective. Countries come and go. We are foolish indeed if we made an absolute allegiance, or give total loyalty, to anything which is not absolute in itself. As I told you last week, we are only to give unconditional love to Yahweh, our Father in Heaven. All other love must be conditional, within a framework of Yahweh's Torah or Law. All loyalty must be conditional - conditional on our absolute loyalty to the truth, which is in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
I had a vision a couple of months ago. It was of a black car which was made in the early 1950's. I knew as I saw it that it represented a part of myself, and in particular to the vehicle of my life energy. I know at once that it was the product of a misplaced allegiance or loyalty. I at once went into prayer and asked my Heavenly Father to transform it into what He wanted it to be. At once I was given a second vision, this time of my right hand, which had a metal handcuff around the wrist, to which was attached a name plate and a chain. I knew that whatever this black vehicle represented that my loyalty to it was keeping me in bondage. It was then that He told me to prepare this sermon.
Did you know that loyalty is a facet of faith? Did you know that to have loyalty for someone you must first have faith in that person? Not always, particularly if we are forced to be loyal, or tricked into being loyal by taking an oath we would never have taken given the freedom of choice? The victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse are forced to take oathes against their will, and once done, they are impelled to exercise faith in their masters no matter how much they lie to them. I have seen that faith, admirable faith, but totally misplaced faith, a faith that leads them to destruction. Under such circumstances we have the right and obligation to renounce those oathes and loyalties. We have not only the right but also the obligation to do so, because we have a higher obligation to truth and to the Supreme Creator, Yahweh-Elohim. We have the right and obligation to terminate anything that would prevent us from being true Him provided we do it in the correct way.
Brethren and sisters, ours is a fellowship of faith, hope, love and truth. Truth defines our love, love gives us faith, and faith gives us hope. We are an intensely loyal people, not to a cult-leader, not to an infallible institution, but to Yahweh and His Truth. We are all wrong at times but the important thing is that our foundation is not human fallibility but the rockbed of Yahweh's Truth. To this we dedicate our loyalty. We know it is the only way to freedom and permanent deliverance. It isn't easy but infinitely worth it.
In Hebrew the word for 'loyalty' is the same as the word for 'loving-kindness'. That word is chasidh' (see Ps.18:25). But this 'loving-kindness' is more than the thought of tender regard, or kindness stemming from love. It is kindness that lovingly attaches itself to an object until its purpose in connection with that object is realised. It is used of only two things in the Bible: loyalty to Yahweh's servants - the ones that He has chosen and ordained - and loyalty to Yahweh Himself. This kind of loyalty is righteous (based on truth), devoted, and holy: it is loyal love (Gen.20:13; 21:23). It is the kind of loyalty that stimulates reverence, piety, and careful observance of all our duties toward Yahweh. In short, it involves right-relationship with our Heavenly Father. There is no English equivalent for the Hebrew word chasidh' because implied within it is unconditional loyalty to God. In other words, all other loyalties are subject to our loyalty to Him.
This loyal love is learned only by imitation (Eph.5:1). It is learned by loyalty to our covenants with Yahweh (Dt.7:9). Yahweh is intensely loyal as an allegorical husband to His wife, Israel (Jer.3:12)! We too are called to be loyal to Him, with loyal love. Thus David could say:
"To the loyal (faithful) You show Yourself loyal (faithful), to the blameless You show Yourself blameless, to the pure You show Yourself pure, but to the crooked You show Yourself shrewd. You save the humble but Your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low. You are my Lamp, O Yahweh; Yahweh turns my darkness into light ... As for Elohim (God), His way is perfect; the word of Yahweh (Torah) is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him. For who is Elohim (God) besides Yahweh? And who is the Rock except our Elohim (God)? It is Elohim (God) who arms me with His strength and makes my way perfect" (2 Sam.22:26-29,31-33, NIV).
May our loyal love be to Him, and Him alone, and all our loyalties to others be subject to His permission and direction and defined by His Torah. Only this way can we be echad (one), only this way will our loyalties never be split, only this way can we truly love, and only this way can we be finally free. Amen.
Click here for Part 3
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